Gitmo Detainees in Limbo May Find Canadian Refuge


A group of Toronto churches are petitioning Canada to admit as refugees some Guantanamo detainees who can't go home, but are also assured by the U.S. that they can't stay here, the Christian Science Monitor reports:

As members of the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR), various Christian denominations have taken up five cases, including those of three Uighurs, an Algerian, and a Kurd from Syria. The Catholic Diocese of Montreal is sponsoring two of the Uighurs, who remain nameless for fear of repercussions against their families in China.

Several Toronto congregations of the United Church of Canada, a Protestant denomination, hope to help Hassan build a new life. "Our commitment is to support him practically and financially for at least a year," says Moira Mancer, a member of the churches' refugee committee.

Last week, CCR called on Canadian immigration to expedite all five cases. "We're hoping the developing political landscape will favor the government giving positive consideration to them," says Janet Dench, CCR's executive director.

CCR worked with the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, which has lawyers representing Guant√°namo prisoners, to identify men who meet Canadian criteria: The men must not have charges against them, and they must not be inadmissable because of criminality or posing a security risk.

"They'll be assessed against a fairly stringent criteria," says Alykhan Velshi, spokesman for Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, adding, "Under no circumstances will we be taking steps to expedite the applications."

In other Guantanamo prisoner news, Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopean citizen and former British resident, is scheduled to be returned to Britain today. Mohamed insists that after he was under U.S. custody but before ending up at Gitmo, he was beaten and/or tortured in three other countries.

Jacob Sullum on whether the Guantanamo detainees are really the "worst of the worst."